“I love you the way the oboe plays.”
– Anne Sexton
I told the dental hygienist that I was a classical musician. Response: “You don’t do that for a living, do you?”
—Beth Zare, French hornist
Yes, I wrote about something similar to this just a short time ago. And yes, it continues to happen.
…something doesn’t have to be perfect to be exquisite. In fact, maybe it’s better if it’s not.
(Okay, he was talking about a movie, but I think this works for music as well sometimes.)
Tonight, I didn’t think about avoiding mistakes — that’s what gets you into trouble.
—Gabrielle (Gabby) Douglas, Olympic Gymnast, winner of the gold medal
No, she wasn’t talking about music. But she very well could have been.
Several movements were played with such passion that the conductor was jumping up and down!
Okay then ….
The less a conductor explains in words the better. There’s nothing a musician hates more than a conductor telling him for five minutes what he wants. A horse wants to run. An orchestra wants to play.
Yep! Not only that, but a conductor should be able to speak primarily through her or his conducting. Tell me through gestures. Tell me through the way you move or even the way you nod your head. I’ll respond. Tell me by talking for five minutes (or longer) and I think we all tend to tune out. Not that a conductor can’t speak at all, mind you, but when they spend too long chatting rather than conducting they tend to lose us.
Surely government has as strong [an] obligation to preserve the cultural environment against dissipation and destruction as it has to preserve the natural environment against pollution and decay.
Which brings me to the heart of this recording: Beethoven. Too often in the quest to make classical music more “accessible,” the approach is to ask “how is this relevant to today?,” and the result is to water down the art. Op. 131 remains infectious because the world today is still relevant to Beethoven, even if most people don’t know it. (Does that sound elitist? I hope so.) The quality of late Beethoven resides in its emotional search through life that draws out the depths of sadness, exuberance, and strivings in its music: something that is universal no matter what the era. Conservatory technique, while of course necessary, can ever quite capture this raw quality, and ultimately performers must make their own connections with the music.
You might guess that the reason I liked this is the whole “accessible” and “relevant” thing. You would be right. I detest both of those words in some ways. I appreciate Mr. Pearson’s ability to explain why the Beethoven is relevant though. Rather than roll his eyes, as I do, he just makes a good point.
Q: You’ve been known to go back and redo some of your work. If you go back to rewrite anything now, what might you do next?
A: It’s not a “might” but a certainty. I need to put oboe in L’Histoire du Soldat. The omission of oboe is a serious flaw in the work. You might be interested to know, too, that I would still like to complete my concerto for English horn.
(This is a snippet of an interview I heard with Igor Stravinsky.)
You want to know my first professional gig? Opening day, 1975 season, at the Hollywood Bowl. I was singing Mahler’s Third with the California Boy’s Choir. It was mind-blowing and surreal. Can you imagine being a 10-year-old kid walking out on that stage, singing Mahler?
Never be late. When you’re late, what you’re saying is that your time is more important than the other person’s time. That’s pretty egotistical.
Me? I quote Alfredo from La traviata:
Io tremo! Oh ciel! Coraggio!
Remember those commercials? Maybe they are still out there; I rarely watch TV commercials these days, thanks to DVR.
Anyway, Madonna believes it, that’s for sure!
Madonna believes that it will be well “worth it” for fans to pay $300 a pop to see her next tour.
As the Material Girl told Newsweek about her plans to tour in support of her upcoming album, “M.D.N.A,” the star seemed highly dismissive of fan complaints about high ticket prices.
“Start saving your pennies now,” said Madonna. “People spend $300 on crazy things all the time, things like handbags. So work all year, scrape the money together, and come to my show. I’m worth it.”
Probably no other country (at least not yet) can boast as many great symphony orchestras, opera companies and conservatories. We are training and producing a stunningly high level of young musicians. The paradox: every arts institution I know is struggling to keep and develop its audience. The arts might need to be repackaged, but without compromising the quality and essence of the inherited art form of which we are the custodians.
The idea of a wet T-shirted quartet where once was Amadeus has me reaching for the sea-sick pills, or just retching.
-Sir Thomas Allen